I’m beginning to think that this part of the world is a little strange. Nothing new about that, you say? True enough. There are just so many things I could point to as proof of that statement. But what I actually have in mind right now is the remarkable number of events, fundraisers, sporting, artistic, social and business activities that take place in this community every week. It is a fact that there are simply not enough weekends in the year to cater for all the plays, gigs, exhibits, games, seminars, talks, etc., that are being put on. You really have to choose carefully which ones you can attend, because you really can’t attend them all.
Why is this an issue right now? Well, every weekend, right through the year, the staff of the Times sweat over their hot keyboards putting this newspaper together. We want to report on every little thing that happens in North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford. We want to let everybody know about the wide range of choices residents have when it comes to spending their money, donating their time, and supporting so many worthwhile causes and groups.
Our problem is that we can’t do it all. Impossible. The space available in the Times every week is limited only by the funds needed to print and mail out those pages. And those funds come almost solely from our dear and valued advertisers. No complaints, we have been given the opportunity to provide a platform for our friends and neighbours to talk to each other, thanks to the local businesses that advertise in these pages.
It is our intention to acknowledge their contribution to this work in the coming weeks and months. We will also be giving readers a chance to get involved also, but more of that anon. The fact is that newspapers all over Canada, even the major corporate ones, are finding it hard to carry on these days.
Torstar is one of the biggest of those corporations. In addition to the Toronto Star, they own Metroland Media, as well as The Hamilton Spectator, Waterloo Region Record, St. Catherines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune, Peterborough Examiner and the StarMetro chain of free daily newspapers in five Canadian cities. Torstar also owns more than 80 community newspapers in print and online, including the Kemptville Advance. But Torstar is suffering along with everybody else. The publisher lost $3.1‑million in the three months ended December 31. They reported “that national print advertising plunged at both its daily and community brands segments, while print advertising from local accounts fell at a slower rate.
Fourth‑quarter revenue from local advertisers compared with a year ago was down 19 per cent at the daily segment and 10 per cent at the community segment.
Torstar are not alone. The SaltWire Network, a chain of 35 newspapers across Atlantic Canada, will be launching a metered paywall for online content. This means that readers of their online papers will have to pay to read articles, other than items like breaking news, weather alerts, and content readily available from other news sources.
Postmedia, another giant media corporation in Canada, has announced that it would no longer produce a print or a digital e‑edition on Mondays, beginning this week. The company owns the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun, Brockville Recorder & Times, the Kingston Whig Standard, and dozens of others across the country.
There was a time when business gurus assumed that the future of publishing was online. The old print newspapers (and books, for that matter) would go the way of the dinosaurs, leaving people staring at their screens instead. But that is not happening, and print journalism is holding its own, at the very least. The real danger lies in falling revenues from advertising on all platforms. In part, this is due to a general conservatism among advertisers, restricted in budgets and careful of where they spend their money.
Torstar and Postmedia have closed down many of their community newspapers, and the survivors are being progressively amalgamated in content and advertising base. Strangely enough, it’s the small, local papers, independently owned and focussed on their communities, that are surviving better. So, as we at the Times work through the weeks and the weekends to bring you this publication, we are increasingly grateful to our advertisers and our readers for making it all worthwhile. In spite of the few naysayers who love to claim that we’re “not really a newspaper”, or that our pages are full of nothing but “opinion”, in the context of what is happening nationally and internationally, we carry on in the knowledge that this is a work worth doing. Without readers, residents who submit articles, events, photos and other fun stuff, this paper would not continue.
Most of all, we thank those who have been with us from the beginning six years and three months ago. Your financial support makes possible something which we believe, in all modesty, is something worth doing, and which adds a different level of community to the community.
Thanks a lot, from all of us.